This story is by Blithely Fostering and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
Maria’s screams from the agony in her back filled the intimate arena as her boots hammered the canvas. Glancing a plea at her patron, Maria continued wailing her misery at the nearly-imperceptible shake of the head. Patience, something a campesina learns from birth. Wait for the crops to grow, wait for the men to arrive home to eat, wait for the festivals to be able to live in a burst of passionate colors between the long, slow browns and greys of daily life. Wait for the coyote to sneak you across the border, wait on the self-indulgent patrons in the exclusive private club until they finally decide to leave early in the mornings, wait for permission to submit to the terrifying roja breaking her like kindling.
Maria marveled again at her luck as her flame-haired tormentor cruelly bent and twisted her. When the cartels turned their village into a war-zone, Maria, her three cousins, and their abuela fled to Juarez. Luis, another cousin, had long ago made his way to The City. Running a successful crew, he arranged for a coyote to slip them across the border and bring the girls and his abuela to him. Luis promised them jobs and that they would pay him back. Escaping the moment, Maria re-lived the long walk through the desert, the three days bouncing on a dirty mattress in the back of the battered work van, the magical nights in the cheap motels. She and her favorite cousin Luisa paid the handsome smuggler with the rakish smile the rest of the passage for their family, ensuring that abuela got to ride in the passenger seat. Luis brought them to his apartment, hugged them, kissed them, and immediately put them to work. Luis’ cleaning crew worked late nights at an exclusive private club, Maria grasped that Luis provided a number of other services through his connections for the club as well. Two months in, Luis drove Maria to the club early. “We have a special job tonight,” was all he would say. Mop bucket discretely placed, Luis clambered up the iron ladder backstage in the tiny arena, daring Maria to follow him. Not yet showing the gift that the charming smuggler left her, Maria followed onto the catwalks above. There to service the lights, the catwalk provided the best seat in the house as two pretty girls fought.
“Si, wrestlers, but like you’ve never seen before…”
Maria agreed the action was great but Luis merely smirked, “wait ’til after the match, then you’ll see why they get paid thousands of dollars.”
Maria huffed, why did boys always think girls younger than themselves were gullible? Then she gasped a shocked breath as Luis chortled. The blonde had screamed her submission, battered and bent beyond her limits. The dark-skinned victor then stripped both of them and…used…the blonde. Tantalized, Maria’s eyes fixed on the sight in horrified fascination. Between matches, Maria and Luis mopped the the ring area clean of the spatters of blood, and other fluids, scampering back to their luxury box seats afterward. The next morning, Maria signed up for ESL classes at the neighborhood center. Last year, three years after Luisa arrived, Maria’s fluency combined with her native charm, stellar work ethic, and richly curved figure landed her an open server/waitress position at the club. Better pay, better hours, able to spend more time with abuela as she cared for Luisa and other neighborhood children, Maria waited for an opportunity. How had she summoned the courage to speak as Miss Paige and her fellows worried aloud at the last-second cancellation as they absent-mindedly received their drinks. “Pardon me, Miss Paige, but you need a good-looking girl for your fight?”
The cool blonde’s sudden focus made Maria’s skin tingle. “I am not a luchadora but I am strong and I can fight.” Maria shrugged, twisting so that her tight uniform pressed against her lush figure. “and I can suffer well…and loudly.”
Paige collected the opinions of her peers with an elegant arch of her eyebrow. “You’ll have to last long enough to make a decent showing…and then there is the aftermath…?”
The hawk-faced brunette next to Paige spoke to Maria for the first time that she could remember that wasn’t a demand for some menial service. “Why would you agree to this?” The woman didn’t sound concerned, merely curious.
Maria faced the brunette but her eyes locked with Paige. Normally shy and quiet, Maria desperately wanted the rich blonde to understand. “All that we have to sell, most of us, are ourselves.” Maria blurted, “our time, our labor, our bodies, our pain. For what you pay your wrestlers, my modesty and pride will submit.” Maria didn’t care if the blond man and nodding woman mistook that for greed, she acknowledged Paige’s tiny nod of respect.
Outside the ring, Paige finally inclined her head. Maria immediately shrieked her surrender, begging for mercy. Sobbing with relief as she was dropped to the mat, Maria ignored her leotard being ripped from her body. Screaming and crying from a different form of abuse, Maria thought of the private school for her Luisa. Her brown limbs flailing, her degradation, the agonized and aroused sights and sounds that Maria made were lapped up by the jaded patrons. Whatever happened in this ring did not matter, Luisa attending St. Ignatius Catholic Prep instead of PS 170 mattered. This was her one chance for Luisa to possibly recline in those padded leather chairs instead of in this ring. The redhead took her pleasure longer than the match lasted, to the delight of the select audience. Maria lay weeping on the mat, naked but for the scarlet boots as applause serenaded the victor out of the ring. As Miss Paige herself helped Maria to the dressing room, the girl felt a warm glow as the clapping and acclaim increased.
Maria unlaced the gorgeous leather boots as Paige praised her debut, “exquisite, my dear. So innocent, so new and fresh, everything that we cynical libertines crave.”
“Thank you again for loaning these to me.”
“Perhaps you’d like to keep them and learn how to wrestle?”
“I have no money..”
“Money I have, and spend generously, as you know.”
“What do you want of me in return?”
Paige’s voice dropped to a husky, hungry whisper as she looked Maria in the eye, “your body, your time, your pain…” Maria smiled at her new patron, for Luisa.